Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sit Back, Relax And Listen

I'm a huge music fan, all kinds, well most kinds, I'm not a fan of jazz or swing music. My mp3 player has around 2000 songs on it from either end of the spectrum and it's mostly on shuffle so one minute it will be blaring a bit of Metallica and the next song could be a soppy love song from Westlife.
Music is my release, I put on my favourite song or album and I instantly feel better, the drive to work might seem long and tedious but blaring my music in the car makes that journey easier to do, putting in my head phones and going for a walk refreshes my mind and who hasn't had an album that's helped you to get through a heartbreak?! (In my next life I WILL be the singer of a rock band!)
Most of all though music relaxes me , chills me the F out and there's nothing I love more than putting on some tunes, sitting back with a few candles, possibly a glass of wine, ear phones in, eyes closed and listening to some music that takes my mind off of everything. I have a play list of my favourite songs to chill out to, I've a few select few on here, have a listen here:


  • First up is a track from one of my all time favourite bands, it's Jimmy Eat World with Disintegration. I drift away into a pool of nostalgia everytime I listen to this. This song is so emotional, I had to think hard if it it actually is a chill out song but for me it is, I would put this one the list I'd play going to sleep. I've been lucky enough to see these guys live 3 times, outstanding.



  • Placebo's version of Running Up That Hill is a chilling track that can take me away from reality in the first few seconds. I love Brian Molko's voice and alongside the piano in this one it's haunting, perfect for a bit of escapism







  • If you haven't listened to the composer Ludovico Einaudi before, I really suggest that you do. I was never a big fan of classical music until I listened to him, I love the classical piano. His music is featured on a lot of TV ad and programs so you may have heard his stuff before. Primavera is one of my favourites, I used to put this on going to sleep when I was pregnant and it really helped me to drift off when I used to find it hard to do so. I have his double cd, Islands and would definitely recommend it for some down time.


      • Massive Attack with Teardrop make the play list too, I think this could a popular choice but the opening beat is mesmerising, it hits you instantly and before I know it I'm floating along with the rhythm. This song is about the death of Jeff Buckley, a friend of the singer Elizabeth Fraser, I think knowing the history of the song makes all that more intriguing. 

      • The Noose by A Perfect Circle is another eerie track that I associate a certain time of my life with and sitting back listening to this song takes me right back to that time, it gives me that flighty kind of feeling and about 2minutes into the track I'm fully immersed into the silky tones of James Maynard Keenan's voice.

      Of course these days I don't get as much time as I would like to stick in those head phones and listen to this playlist, the baby monitor above my bed may have something to do with that ;)
      Do you have any particular songs that you find relaxing, that you can chill out to? I'd love to hear about them, we might even have a few of the same! 

      I'm linking this post up with wonderful #AllAboutYou Link and Pin Party 




      Monday, 17 November 2014

      I Took That Step

      Right I wasn't going to blog about this, well not this early on but I've changed my mind partly because it'll help me to be even more disciplined in regards to achieving my goal.

      I took that step, one I've been putting off for ages now. I joined Slimming World. I have one week down already. Joining Slimming World itself wasn't the step I needed to take but getting my self in check to get back in proper control of my body was and joining Slimming World is my way of doing it.
      I think I was in denial about the amount of weight I had put on since being pregnant with Luke and I'm sad to say I am still 3 stone over my pre pregnancy weight. Foolishly I assumed it would go away by itself but of course it doesn't, sure it's super easy to gain the extra weight but not so easy to lose it as I have discovered. Having high blood pressure is also another push for me to do this.

      About 8 months before I got pregnant I had joined the local gym and loved it. Now don't go thinking I was in there every day lifting weights, pumping iron, running miles on the treadmill because I wasn't. I did try and go 4 times a week after work though and did 40 / 45 mins of cardio on 3 different machines, the treadmill, cross trainer and bike. That might not seem like much to some but for me it was fine, I got back into some kind of shape and for the first time in a long time I was comfortable and happy in my own skin. I kept going until about 9 / 10 weeks pregnant but then the tiredness hit and I was lucky if I made it home from work before I fell asleep at the wheel, needless to say I haven't been back since. I was considering rejoining but that time after work I used to spend in the gym is now taken up with getting as much quality time in with Luke as I can between me getting home from work at 6pm and him going to bed at 7.30pm. The OH usually works until 10pm so I am housebound most evenings.

      I tried this, that and the other to lose the baby weight but didn't stick to anything so that's where Slimming World came in. Myself and my boss joined a local group near our office, took the plunge, got weighed and began our journey to slimmer versions of ourselves! We attended the group talk our first night and I personally found it very motivating, everyone was very encouraging of each other.

      It takes a bit of getting used to what with knowing the syn value things and what's a free food and what isn't but the whole concept of the program is quite simple. For those who don't know how it works this is it:

      Every day you are allowed: Unlimited free and super free foods, 1 option from the Healthy A list, 1 option from the Healthy B list and 15 syns which are like points. You get all of this information in the booklet they give you when you sign up as well as details to register online which I have found to be a great source of information especially for recipes. I'm happy to say I've tried out 5 of the Slimming World recipes and so far they have all been very tasty. Simple recipes that you would see everyday but with different versions of the ingredients, healthier versions. You can buy their own chocolate bars at the meetings, I got one packet as they are handy to have if you fancy something sweet.
      Honestly I'm still able to eat so much that it doesn't feel like a diet, more like a lifestyle change. The book and folder you are given on day one has become my bible and I personally need the discipline of the weekly weigh to keep myself on track. There is also a Facebook page for our local group which is so handy because the more experienced people seem to help out the beginners and everyone can share their thoughts and recipes.

      Week 1 down and I am 3.5 pounds lighter! I am pleased with that and I hope that I can keep up that amount of weight loss every week for a while. I won't reveal my starting weight just yet as to be honest I'm still in shock over it (and I'm just not that brave yet!) but I would hope to be able to reveal it once I've reached my current goal. I'll try and post here weekly about it along with what I've been eating, if not I should definitely get around to doing it fortnightly.

      This week I hope to be more active before our next weigh in on Tuesday. I've meal planned a few days in advance and batch cooked some things for lunch for work, I find this all really helps. You what they say, Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail :)



      Wednesday, 12 November 2014

      A Trip Down Memory Lane...Windsor, England

      Finally I’m getting around to writing about a recent trip my mother and I took to England which was actually almost a month ago now at this stage.
      Not many know but I was actually born in England and spent the first 6 years of my life there. We lived in Slough and we spent a lot of time between there, Windsor and Eton where Mum is from and even though it was only 6 years I still hold a lot of memories from our time living there, I suppose because they were my first formative years. I remember so much from our time there and always feel a connection to there so I was excited when Mum asked would we go and visit some family friends who we had not seen in 20 years.
      So we booked our tickets and for the first time in over 20 years we, Mum especially, were boarding a plane to go back “home”. I was anxious for her because she hadn’t been back there in so long and it’s where my grandparents lived, worked, owner their own business and now sadly are buried. She was nervous too I could tell, she wasn’t sure how she was going to feel being back there after so long.
      I can safely say it was a wonderful weekend where we spent some much needed quality time with our family friends, mum’s childhood friend, “Aunty” Kath who we used to visit every week when we lived in the UK. Kath lives in Eton and as soon as we stepped through her front door it was as if we had never been away, I suddenly had visions of being there as a 6 year old on a Sunday afternoon with my older sister and Kath’s daughter Claire who is like my other sister, me more than likely annoying the 2 of them, they are 6 years and 10 years older than me respectively and drinking Vimto because Mum would never get that for us at home. The train track runs across the back of Kath’s garden and I remember being on the train with Mum as a kid and keeping a lookout for the house whenever we were on the train.
      Things have changed so much in the last 20 years of course but it was so nice to see the places I knew so well as a child through my adult eyes. For Mum to point out places she used to go to as a child, where she went to school and the corner my Grandad used to stand on selling his newspapers. We drove past where my grandparents and Mum lived, where they used to own a shop and petrol station, which was now a hair dressers. I met some local people who remembered Mum and asked after her, this was so nice because obviously there is no one in our local area now that knew here before we moved there, everyone knows my Dad from years ago but not Mum so it was nice to experience people that knew her and she knew for a change.
      I spent time catching up with Claire who now has 2 wonderful children, Elizabeth and Amelia. I think I’ve a new best friend in 4 year old Amelia too! We said it a few times, it really was as if that 20 year gap didn’t even exist. They took me to Windsor castle for a visit, somewhere we would have gone as children, back in the day when it was free to go in there! We did a bit of shopping, visited my grandparents grave and talked, a lot!
      Mum and I have vowed not to leave it so long before going back again and keeping the lines of communication open between us all and hopefully not letting life take over quite so much again.

      While Ireland is my home and always will be as it’s where I’ve spent the last 22 years, there will always be a part of us – me, Mum and my sister no doubt, in England where I feel that should we go back again which I’m sure we will it will always feel like a home away from home. 












      Saturday, 1 November 2014

      A To Do List For November

      I've been very bad this year at getting anything done, it's just so not like me. I'm going to place the blame on tirelessly trying to balance work and home life with a toddler and a dog, who is also a toddler. So for November I am doing a "To Do" list of things I want / need done before the festive season kicks and it will all be forgotten about until 2015. I feel that by sharing it here with everyone then y'know I have to keep to my list, to save face and all that.

      So here goes:


      • Buy 2 shelves for the utility cupboard
      • Paint the utility cupboard, the paint and all of the paraphernalia is there, I just need to actually paint it now
      • Get a new rug for the living room, the dog has the cream parts of the current one destroyed with his muddy paws 
      • Try out these new slimming wraps the internet is gone crazy for, yes I got some last week but have yet to try them, no point when all I've been eating is crap during my week off work
      • Finally finish the spare room, I've cleared a lot of the junk and moved the furniture but now don't like it this way so have to move it back, but that's a lot of effort
      • Bring Luke to a toddler group on Friday mornings. I've been saying this since I went back on a 4 day week in September but we seem to have had something on every Friday so far
      • Actually stick to my "I'm going to make a batch of soup and get Mum to make me some bread for my lunches to take to work to save me from buying them" weekly mental note that I have yet to stick to at all
      Ok that's enough, there's only so much a working mama can do in one month. I'll be back at the end of the month with an update on these!
      Have any of you got anything special lined up for November?


      Friday, 31 October 2014

      Me & Mine October

      Wow October just by in the blink of an eye! We had a super busy month with trips away, a birthday party and get togethers, holidays from work, organising the house some bit although you wouldn't think it was organised if you saw it now. I was hoping the garden would be sorted this month Dad has been flat out at work so hopefully November will see that being done.
      The OH had a trip away to Manchester with a friend for the football and myself and Mum headed off to the UK to Windsor for a few days, more of which I'll post about later. It was a lovely trip down memory lane for both of us.
      We were hit by a stomach bug at the start of the month but we weren't long getting over it although we all now have colds but nothing major.
      I've been on a bit of a baking splurge this month and still have a few more recipes I want to try out.
      The OH had a week off work and I'm currently on a weeks holidays from work too so we've both had lots of quality time with Luke this month, it's been great. He's getting 2 more bottom teeth at the moment so is requiring lots of cuddles and I'm so glad I've been at home this week to give them.
      It's hard to believe that today is Luke's second Halloween, we are going to Mum's tonight for a bit of a gathering and some finger food and goodies for our tea.


      Here is our family portrait for October:




      This month Luke loves:
      • Having his cousin Katie stay with us for most of the week
      • Talking Tom, every morning he goes straight to Dad to show him the talking cat on his phone
      • Learning a few more words
      This month Dad loves:
      • Having a week off
      • Finally buying FIFA 15
      • Quality time with Luke
      This month Mum loves:
      • Also having a week off work
      • Finally making the spare room look like an actual bedroom
      • Visiting places from my childhood

      HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

      Thursday, 30 October 2014

      One Misty Morning


      I took these pictures on a very foggy Sunday morning on my way out to my parents house, I love how the fog descended so thick and fast and then as quick as it came it was gone again. There was a big bright sun hiding behind all of that fog as I captured at Cuskinny, looking over towards Roches Point. Right across from my parents house is an old grave yard, the thick fog only added to an already eerie picture. The cobwebs were huge and as the fog lifted the sunlight streamed through them. 


      Something beautiful is on the horizon, keep on going 

      Don't be afraid to go into the mist, be excited because you don't know where you will end up



      Oh, what a tangled web we weave 

      Sunday, 26 October 2014

      Halloween Shortbread Biscuits

      I love baking when it's an occasion, I love nothing more than getting out my food colourings, icing, sprinkles, cake toppers etc, decorating is the best part of baking for me. So what better time to get all of these out than for Halloween.
      Yesterday we made bat and coffin shaped shortbread biscuits with a jam filling, they were a great hit and so quick and easy to make for a treat.

      Here's the recipe:

      6oz Plain Cream Flour
      4oz Caster Sugar
      2oz Butter (I used "real" butter, y'know the block stuff that has the best taste rather than margarine)
      Strawberry Jam
      Icing Sugar
      Food Colouring
      Sprinkles of your choice


      • Preheat oven to 160degrees, we have a fan oven
      • Mix together butter and sugar until a soft creamy texture
      • Add in the flour to form a dough, we used our hands and the wooden spoon for this bit
      • We found the mixture a bit dry and crumbly so added in a drop of milk to bind it together which worked fine
      • Bring the together into a ball and then roll out on a floured surface
      • This amount of mixture allowed us to get 14 biscuits
      • Place biscuits on to a lined baking try and bake for approx 20mins or until biscuits are lightly golden
      • Allow to cool before putting jam on to one side of a biscuit and placing another on top to make a biscuit sandwich.
      • We decorated ours with black icing and sprinkles




      Recommendation:

      This food colouring is the best I've used. Only a small bit needed for a strong colour. We got this in Home Store and More in Mahon Point, Cork, it's the only place I've seen it before. I think it cost about 2.69euro